GOODBYE, OLD FRIEND: Sean Ryan, 13, and sister Katherine Ryan, 15, take a look at the fungus-infected fig tree in Queens Park, Maryborough.
GOODBYE, OLD FRIEND: Sean Ryan, 13, and sister Katherine Ryan, 15, take a look at the fungus-infected fig tree in Queens Park, Maryborough. Jocelyn Watts

Fungus takes hold of old fig tree

A VERY old fig tree, now on death row, aroused genuine emotion and concern in the council chambera.

Councillor Barb Hovard told her colleagues it was a sad day.

“This is like losing a very old friend,” she said. “It is a sad day.”

The condemned tree is a fungus-infected curtain fig, perhaps a survivor from the late 1880s, and it stands near the Richmond Street end of the bandstand in the eastern corner of Queens Park.

Ms Hovard was concerned that the 18-page consultant's report on the frail fig mentioned that “many Queens Park trees were observed as being placed under considerable stresses due to varying environmental factors”.

These include drought, compaction from pedestrians and mowers, soil build-up, tree mulching practices, storm-water movement, removal of organic matter, competition with grasses and fungus and basal root flare damage.

“We're obviously going to need to take remedial action there,” Ms Hovard said.

A council officer said a report was imminent, including a budget breakdown, so that the region's trees could be checked out in “proactive tree management” but that the process wasn't cheap.

Council staff assured councillor David Dalgleish the diseased old fig would be dug out, taken to the tip and mulched.

Ms Hovard wanted to know if another “significant” tree would be planted in the fig's place.

The officer said a decontamination period would be applied and then a tree of the same variety would be planted.

Councillor Belinda McNeven wanted to know what an air knife was because the report recommended the neighbouring wilga tree also appeared to be infected so further investigation should be done “via air knife”.

Ms McNeven said she would Google it. The Chronicle did too and it's a tool that blows liquid and debris off something.

Some councillors were concerned the fungus could spread or may have already spread.

A council officer said the fungus came from the state's north and no one knew how it had got to Queens Park but “once you see the fruiting it's a death notice”.



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